James gives a most practical living primer in the Bible. He offers his readers realistic, sharp instructions on what a person united with Christ Jesus does and doesn’t do. His opening advice at first glance seems unrealistic; when he states, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” (v.2).
How can anyone rejoice in the face of hardship? The key is understanding that God uses trials to produce “perseverance.” A good example is how consistent pressure and heat change a lump of coal into a diamond.
James does not say, ‘if you face trials, rather ‘when’. The point is obvious; hardships are predictable and inevitable. We all face them. Some of us have learned to deal with it, some of us have not.
We encounter two basic types of trials. Trials of correction come our way when we are out of the good purposes of God for our life. God allows a test to come our way to correct our paths, just as he did in the life of Jonah, the runaway prophet. Jonah created trouble not only for himself but also for the passengers on the ship he was travelling. God had to teach Jonah that His love is inclusive, and he judges sin but forgives when people confess their sin and repent and turn to Him.
Then there are trials of perfection, which come our way when we are walking in the will of God, and trials are a source to perfect our faith and lead us to the holiness of life.
Testing our faith develops perseverance, the staying power that will help us stand up under other tests. Jesus suffered for us to become the source of salvation. It’s aptly said, ‘A God who cannot suffer cannot love either.’ Let’s continue to live our lives in union with Christ Jesus, who loves us and purifies and perfects us.